The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 6, 2013

86-year-old St. Peter woman charged with voter fraud

(Continued)

ST PETER —

Schneider agreed.“I think if I’m convicted, they should be convicted too. They knew I had voted already, so they shouldn’t have let me vote.”

Michelle Zehnder Fischer, Nicollet County attorney, doesn’t comment on specific criminal cases. In general, though, she said in all cases when she is notified about a possible voter fraud incident she is required to have it investigated. If there is probable cause to show a crime occurred, she is required by state law to prosecute.

“Normally in criminal cases we have the ability to use discretion,” Fischer said.

She also said she could be required to forfeit her office if she doesn’t follow the law.

Moore said Sandland told her and her mother that investigators dug through statutes dating to the 1800s in an effort to get around charging Schneider. Sandland couldn’t be reached for comment.

“He was very polite about it,” Moore said. “He said he was sorry.”

Beth Fraser, director of government affairs for Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, said Fischer’s description of the voter fraud law is accurate.

It falls under statute 201.275, which says a county attorney who has been “notified by affidavit” of a voter fraud violation is required to investigate and — if there is any evidence found — prosecute.

The statute also says: “A county attorney who refuses or intentionally fails to faithfully perform this or any other duty imposed by this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall forfeit office.”

Fischer said she doesn’t remember who notified her about Schneider.

Bills are moving through the state Senate and House that would change the wording of the law so prosecutors have more discretion, Fraser said. The new bills would change the law so county attorneys can prosecute based on American Bar Association standards, which are used for other criminal cases.

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